Wales politics

Bosses at Welsh Government-funded TV firm Bad Wolf 'paid £1.8m'

Julie Gardner
Image caption One of the directors of the company is Julie Gardner, a former BBC executive

Pay packages for three directors at a television company that received a £4m Welsh Government loan have been criticised by the Welsh Conservatives.

Accounts for Bad Wolf revealed large remuneration packages worth a total of £1.8m over 18-months.

Tory AM Suzy Davies said the payments were a "cause for concern".

But the firm said the company has brought in millions more in investment to Wales, and says it has just struck deals with HBO and Sky.

The two firms have taken a minority stake in the company. Bad Wolf said it would be paying back the loan with interest.

The company, which was set up in 2015 by former BBC executives Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter and is based in south Wales and Los Angeles, is currently working on two series, A Discovery Of Witches and His Dark Materials.

Accounts for July 2015 to December 2016 show the Welsh Government gave the firm a loan worth just under £4m.

The documents says that Ms Tranter received £855,417 while Ms Gardner was given £519,301. A third director, Miles Ketley, received £441,539. He resigned from the company in March 2017.

Part of Ms Tranter's pay - £300,000 - was earmarked for relocation expenses. She was also given a loan of £270,645. At the end of 2016 £186,861 of the loan was still owing.

The accounts state that the firm achieved a turnover of £1.8m and a gross profit of £519,941, but after administrative expenses of £3.7m it made a loss of £3.1m.

Image caption Conservative assembly member Suzy Davies said directors' pay at Bad Wolf was a "cause for concern"

Ms Davies, the Welsh Conservative's culture spokeswoman, said while the party hopes that Bad Wolf and its pipeline projects will achieve great success, "there are aspects of its finances which are concerning".

She said it was "curious" why the Welsh Government loan was guaranteed against the value of the company's assets, which she said the report showed "are worth a mere fraction relative to the loan's value".

"That the three directors are collectively paying themselves an annual income equivalent to nearly half of loan's value is also a cause for concern - especially given that their projects are still in the inchoate stages and are yet to make a return," she said.

"The Welsh Government's less-than-stellar record on investment decisions has been well-publicised, and taxpayers will rightly be questioning how ministers have found themselves in this position yet again - especially in a sector where Wales is working hard to promote a strong international offer."

A spokesman for Bad Wolf said: "Welsh Government loaned £4 million to Bad Wolf to launch a business that would develop international TV production in Wales - to be repaid with interest.

"Since then Bad Wolf has brought in over double that amount in investment from outside companies with further investment from HBO and Sky being announced [on Wednesday].

"The company has just unveiled a new £25m production to be shot in Cardiff - A Discovery Of Witches for Sky 1 - meaning that the loan from Welsh Government has already generated significant new business and new jobs for Wales with more projects to follow in 2018 and beyond."

A Welsh Government spokesman said it had no comment "on a commercial decision by a private company".

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